♫ Virtual Choir 3

Eric Whitacre launched Virtual Choir 3, the composite performance of his choral work “Water Night”, to promote his new album of the same name (of which more later). Once again, it’s transcendently beautiful.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3rRaL-Czxw]

3746 singers from 73 countries. Amazing, in every dimension.

If you missed the earlier editions, watch them – they are beautiful and remarkable.

♫ Artistic Excellence

[This post is only useful to people who can buy MP3s from Amazon US – sorry]

I have previously recommended samplers from Mishara Music. They specialise in singer-songwriters and their previous two samplers in Summer 2011 and Autumn 2011 were superb – and are still free, if you missed them then. So I was pleased to see a new one for Spring 2012 has been released. It’s also free, is double the length of the earlier samplers and is packed with wonderful artists. If you’re allowed to have it by the archaic copyright controls Amazon is forced to implement, go grab it now.

♫ Magnetic North

We saw Hannah Peel supporting and playing with The Unthanks when they played down here in Southampton. She is as talented as she is charming, with a fascinating new approach to folk-inspired music that is well-represented on her album The Broken Wave, from which one of the standout tracks is Song For The Sea:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-Q2wCEgvbQ]

One of her signature instruments is the pin-harp, a music box programmed with a paper tape like a piano roll that she cranks by hand on stage to accompany her singing.

[youtube http://youtu.be/m6xFK-vQhJM]

It seems her new project is a small-group concept work called Orkney: Symphony  Of The Magnetic North. The teaser web site is hauntingly attractive and I’m looking forward to finding out more when they release the album on May 7th.

☆ Hollow Point

Each time I am told I should unreservedly respect decisions made by authorities in secret, I remember this song by Chris Wood. I always cry when I play it.

[youtube http://youtu.be/tI2YdHt_V7s]

In case you don’t recognise the story, it’s about Jean Charles de Menezes and his killing by British police whose certainty he was an Islamic terrorist overcame their humanity.

Folk music is still our folk memory. Bad laws limiting criticism of official business, restricting mention of trademark terms or preventing adaptation of popular culture will kill it and make us forget.

♫ Eric Whitacre’s Grammy

Back in December I mentioned that Eric Whitacre’s wonderful choral album “Light and Gold” [Amazon UK | Amazon US] had been nominated for a Grammy award. Well … he won!

If you’ve not heard his choral music, I suggest you take a look at my posting about his Virtual Choir project from last year.

Congratulations, Eric!

♫ Sarah Jarosz – ‘Run Away’

This performance by 20-year-old Sarah Jarosz is completely magical. She’s supported by Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas but there’s no missing her star quality. What’s more, the song is her own composition.

Superb stuff again from Transatlantic Sessions, which has become my favourite music TV. This is from Series 5 – I’ve added the DVD to my wish list!


♫ Whitacre Grammy Nomination

You’ll perhaps remember that I really loved Light and Gold (a fine Christmas gift by the way – from Amazon UK and Amazon US) from American choral composer Eric Whitacre (of Virtual Choir fame).  We also thoroughly enjoyed his concert at Union Chapel. He’s a fine composer and conductor creating truly beautiful music.

Well, I see from his blog that it has been nominated for a Grammy!  Congratulations, Eric! Really looking forward to the new album in the spring.

♫ Eddi Reader this Thursday

I just picked up tickets to go see Eddi Reader in Southampton this Thursday, November 3rd. You may remember her as the heart of the band Fairground Attraction back in the 80s, perhaps with their best known single “Perfect” as the memory hook.

Since then she’s been developing an impressive solo career, recognised in 2006 with an MBE.  I especially enjoyed her performance at TED a few years ago:

There were plenty of tickets left – see you there!

♫ Eric Whitacre Concert

Eric Whitacre Concert, originally uploaded by webmink.

Busy day Tuesday, which included the great pleasure of going to hear Eric Whitacre conduct his superb choir performing a number of his works including some new ones – you’ll remember I mentioned this concert a while back (and if you don’t, be sure to follow that link and watch the video). Notably, he has set the classic children’s story “Goodnight Moon” to music, and his wife Hila sang it gorgeously with just a piano accompanist instead of the orchestral setting that will be on his new album next year. Each of the full-choir pieces was a delight, invoking a union of Tallis, Tavener and Vaughan-Williams. Despite a strong ‘classical’ flavour, the concert ended with a  full-choir encore of Lux Aurumque, the piece that started his Virtual Choir idea.

I had been due to interview him in the afternoon but his publicist called to cancel just as I was leaving home – Eric was “still writing” (presumably the piano arrangement) and was not free. I hope to interview him soon to discuss his views on creativity and copyright in today’s society.

♫ Whitacre Concert

If you were blissed-out by the amazingly beautiful choral music I linked to on Bank Holiday Monday, and if you happen to live within reach of London, you will definitely want to check out the concert that composer and conductor Eric Whitacre is organising in mid-October.

If the review of last year’s equivalent performance is anything to go by, it should be splendid, although there’s no detailed programme listed on the web site yet. The review says:

Eric is almost too good to be true. Along with his musical gifts and rock star-ish appearance (complete with a mane of blonde hair that makes you think of surfboards, though he comes from Nevada), Whitacre is also a ridiculously relaxed communicator, setting up each composition with anecdotes and droll asides.

His comments on Twitter suggested early on that he will be performing some new compositions as well as works from his wonderful album Light & Gold, which I have been playing repeatedly ever since it arrived from Amazon UK (it’s also on Amazon US). From the blog posting, he’s definitely performing the Grace he composed for Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge:

as well as premièring other new works. So buy some tickets and I’ll see you there!

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